The last few weeks, I’ve been feeling pretty aimless again.
got the volcanoes book finished – I wrote it like it was a PhD, mamash, everything was footnoted and sourced in research papers, and I was quite proud of the amount of info I’d managed to uncover and pull together.
Problem was: it was boring as heck for most people who aren’t PhDs themselves.
I was stuck on the horns of a furious dilemma, because I’m not a scientist, so I had to quote tons of papers and research to be taken seriously, but at the same time, quoting all that stuff made what I was writing too ‘high level’ for most people.
For six weeks I ummed and ahhed about what to do about the book. Then a couple of days ago, I finally decided to dismember the content into Quora posts, and hope to get the information out that way.
All that effort….and nothing really to show for it.
As often happens, my mood follows my publishing experiences, so it plummeted off a cliff for a week. But then, I decided to try to pull myself back into ‘doing’ mode again, and to start again, to start over, to start afresh.
For the 400 millionth time, because isn’t this what Rabbenu tells us we have to do? Renew every second, don’t get old, keep making a new start.
It’s excellent advice, just not always so easy to implement.
Especially when you start looking around and asking yourself where exactly, all your effort has got to date. But I rolled up my sleeves, did the first mind map for a good few months, and started trying to plan a course ahead again.
Then, the atzeret in Hevron came along to distract me, and then last week all the terrorism kicked off big time, and I felt like I was in the middle of craziness again, and couldn’t do anything much except wait and see how it was all going to play out.
Then – that awful terrorist attack which killed the two Yosefs at the junction with Bet El, and which upset me greatly. But, their deaths also seems to have ‘sweetened’ things again, holy souls that they were, because by this week, everything is ‘back to normal’.
Or so it seems.
And so, having pinged back from the edge of geula again last week, with its yellow jackets, plunging stock markets, rising anti-semitism, Hezbollah tunnels and terror attacks, this week I’m back to wondering what on earth I’m doing with my life.
Everything has gone back to ‘fantastic plastic’, the fake, superficial world has got a reprieve and we’re back in nonsense land again. We’ve all got that fake smile pinned firmly back in place, and there’s nothing more to worry about than what colour to repaint the walls.
I don’t do so well in nonsense land.
So, I cracked open the Likutey Moharan to get a clue from Rabbenu what, what, WHAT?!?!?!
And I got to lesson 45 in part 1, where I read the following:
“[T]he exile in Egypt was essentially an exile of speech, for which reason Moses stuttered.”
Then, I read the following in lesson 46:
“[S]peech is a manifestation of consciousness, as in, “From His mouth come knowledge and discernment.”
And then, I started to understand why communicating in any sort of ‘real’ way is becoming increasingly difficult these days.
The exile is deepening, it’s reaching it’s zenith. It’s an exile where people can’t pray; where people can’t speak out what’s really in their hearts, where they can’t even really talk to themselves - or listen to themselves - honestly.
Speech today has been hi-jacked by the yetzer, and so we live in a world of superficial platitudes, pointless rants and painful silences.
And not much else.
Once Rabbenu explained what’s really going on, I started to feel a little more sane. Because sometimes, when I’m going on about how ‘plastic’ and how ‘fake’ and how ‘phoney’ so much of our communication is today, so many people apparently have no idea what I’m talking about.
It’s the world of lies, mamash, and 99.9% of us are in it up to our eyeballs.
As I wrote about HERE, I got chewed out last week for trying to cross a quiet Jerusalem road, on Shabbat morning when there are three cars an hour, when the red man was showing.
I was chewed out by an elderly chiloni lady, who clearly wasn’t very happy with her own life, so welcomed the opportunity to vent her frustration and anger on yours truly.
It really made me think about how most of us communicate, because while I was 100% in the wrong, for trying to cross the road with the red man, the way she spoke to me was so unnecessarily aggressive, I had to fight hard to keep myself from going off on one myself, and giving her a mouthful back.
Speech is in exile.
It’s in exile, when parents can’t have real heart-to-heart conversations with their children, and can’t tell them who they really are and where they really came from, and can’t share their experiences and mistakes with them in any but the most superficial and condescending ways.
It’s in exile, when husbands can’t tell their wives how much fear they actually feel about trying to make ends meet; or how much worry and confusion they are carrying about the future. It’s in exile when wives can’t tell husbands how much they miss them, when they’re working late again, and how much they miss them, when they just walk around with their fake smile plastered on their face and their heads stuck in an i-Phone, or a gemara, as a way of avoiding intimate contact and real conversation.
It’s in exile when one friend can’t tell another: I feel for you so much. I wish things were different. And when we just keep playing the same, awful, game of keeping up with the Cohens, instead of stepping out of the competition, and off the rat wheel.
It’s in exile when we can’t say to God, “God, help me! I’m lost! I’m totally overwhelmed, I don’t know if I’m coming or going! I’m bouncing off the bottom here, Hashem, pick me back up!”
Of course we can’t say that to God.
Most of us can’t say anything to God, so we pretend we’re communicating via the Shemoneh Esrei when really, our mind is on work, and the bills, and the upcoming barmitzvah, and the blocked drain.
Speech is in exile.
I feel it nearly every day, when I sit down to write, or sit down to answer a few more emails, or catch up with someone else only to have to sit through another phone call where I can feel there is so much more to be said, so much more going on, but the other person can’t quite put it into words.
So I read that, then I asked God:
“What’s my job then, in this nonsense land where most people are completely lying to themselves and can’t speak out what they are really feeling and experiencing?”
Because in case you haven’t noticed, most people think I’m crazy (but entertaining…)
And the answer I got back is this: Just be real.
Just carry on writing about your struggles.
Just carry on telling people that sometimes you fall down and watch some pop videos on Youtube, because it makes you really happy to see Mariah Carey got so fat. Just keep sharing how hard you sometimes find it in the fake world.
Just be real.
There’s nothing more to do.
Until Moshiach comes, speech is going to stay in exile.
But once geula gets under way in earnest, we’re going to need to remember how to actually talk to each other again.
And maybe, just maybe, that’s where me and my writing could come in a little bit useful.
NOTICE: The blog is only restarting at this address temporarily.
I will be migrating this blog over to a new site at: rivkalevy.com